By: Gyang Dakwo
Boxing icon Anthony Joshua’s huge heavyweight re-match against Oleksandr Usyk is in SEVEN days’ time – and the tension is rapidly building.
Joshua,32, and his Ukrainian counterpart were due to do battle in May, and then July, but there were various hold-ups in negotiations which pushed the fight further back.
Russia’s war on Ukraine, where Usyk is from, also had an impact on the rematch with Joshua being made.
Usyk, 35, returned to his home country earlier this year to join the fight against Russia, which began in February but he’s now in training camp for the biggest fight of his life, and one that he knows he can win.
Usyk outpointed and largely outclassed Joshua in front of 70,000 fans at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September to win the WBA, WBO, IBF & IBO world titles.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said earlier this month that his client is ‘baffled’ by the tactics used last year, and hinted at a change of game plan for the rematch.
He said: “I was talking to him the other night and I think finally it’s baffled him why he fought like that.
“For a long time, he still felt even when he lost that he could still beat Usyk like that. But why when you don’t need to fight like that?
“He could fight in your old style and have a much better chance of beating him. Klitschko-style but Usyk is a tremendous fighter, a great counterpuncher.”
Hearn added that AJ “needs to be a lot more aggressive” this time.
The two sides spent months negotiating a money-spinning deal for AJ’s second fight in Saudi Arabia, having beaten Ruiz Jr on points in the oil-rich country in December 2019.
Joshua will also have a new training team, with the experienced Robert Garcia leading his corner while Angel Fernandez plays second-in-command.
But Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk believes Garcia won’t be able to instill a new mindset in the Brit, saying: “Robert Garcia is a very well known, very determined and professional trainer.
“And he has great experience in bringing guys to success, but he does not have experience with heavyweights.
“But that does not matter much because you cannot teach AJ anything new because he’s more than 30 years old.
“It’s more about bringing out his advantages, pushing down his weaknesses. Mentality cannot be changed by a trainer.
“Your mentality is something you receive when you’re born and is formed in your family, in your childhood, at school, and at college.
“This is what forms your mentality; your teachers, your friends, your relatives. When you’re 30 years old, like AJ, you have a completely formed mentality.”
Although Krassyuk doesn’t foresee AJ significantly changing his mentality, he’s refusing to rule out the Watford warrior’s chances of reclaiming the belts.